Operation Oysterhood: 17-25 March

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

@HaggardHawks

NAMIBIA

A road trip. A country of incomprehensibly vast spaces. Light. Heat. Breathtaking views.

I couldn’t help thinking of the people who carve out their existence in these relentlessly stunning, challenging landscapes. An existence between sunrise and sunset. The sun. The moon. The outrageousness of Milky Way’s stars. The awe-inspiring beauty of it all. Its untameable nature.

And then this:

The Kwessi Dunes Natural Selection camp in the NamibRand Nature Reserve is simply paradise on earth. Highlights: reading on our tent’s stoep in the afternoon’s heat while jackals, oryxes or a lonely ostrich wander by on their way to or from the water hole; sleeping under the Milky Way; our guide Dawid telling us to go for a short walk while he prepared ‘coffee’ and magically produced an entire breakfast on the dunes; and our guide Alfred speaking and singing in Khwedam on the dunes. His language is still spoken by only a few thousand people, and is so beautiful, I will remember its sounds and cadences for the rest of my life.

We arrived in Namibia after the rains, abundant after a decade of drought. The NamibRand was a sea of grass singing its own stories to us. Pure magic.

“It was impossible not to be moved by such love”, says Edward in Midnight Sun, which I finally had the opportunity to read. Indeed. Loved the book as much as all the other Twilight Saga novels. I also got into Heather Martin’s great biography of Lee Child, The Reacher Guy, but the trip wasn’t long enough to finish both doorstoppers. Rudolf and my paper diary came along for the trip.

After the Covid-19 test in Windhoek, waiting for the results, we spent nearly two days in the company of Nick of Nature Travel Namibia, who took us to the Erongo Mountains for a birding trip. My love had a list of endemics that he wanted to see and introduce me to, and Nick was able to find and show them to us ALL. It was simply amazing. We were very fortunate that we could explore the area just after a short thunderstorm when all the birds came out and enjoyed the fresh air along with us. The violet-backed starling was not on the must-see endemic list, but was the bird that I will probably remember the most. And the rosy-faced lovebirds, of course. But they were everywhere we went. And then there was not exactly a bird, but the … dassie rat, distant szczurek family. I immediately fell in love.

We were supposed to come back today, driving from Windhoek to Cape Town over two days, but we left early yesterday morning, were not held up at the border for too long and my love, the driving superhero, decided to make it home in one day. He is the best driver I know. And he even agreed to stop at a Wimpy (something I, after years of driving around South Africa, consider a road trip tradition).

Nine days, eight nights, four destinations, three thousand something kilometres and two negative Covid-19 tests later and we were home. I loved every second of it.

Be kind. Wear a mask. A lot is possible with a little bit of care.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

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